Kim names multi-agency COVID-19 task force

  • Mayor Harry Kim

Mayor Harry Kim has named a multi-agency task force to tackle the likely spread of COVID-19 in the county.

During an unscheduled briefing that lasted more than an hour, Kim described to the County Council steps his administration is taking to be proactive on the island, which has not yet had a resident experience a positive test for the coronavirus.

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Kim said he wasn’t ready to say whether the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, scheduled for April, should be canceled, saying the festival, like the cruise ships and airlines visiting the islands, are an essential part of the economy. He said he met with cruise line officials Tuesday and had them describe mitigation steps they are taking.

“Whether it’s my authority or not, I am obligated to look at all the factors of decision making,” Kim said. “Economic impact obviously means lifestyle changes, survival, not just a disease.”

Led by Deputy Fire Chief Lance Uchida, the task force includes the Mayor’s Office, the county Department of Civil Defense, the state Department of Health and Hilo Medical Center.

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The task force will focus on seven groups, Uchida said: kupuna, keiki, educational institutions, businesses, homeless, civic groups and churches, public safety personnel and large gatherings.

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